My first house - John Robbie

There’s no beating about the bush with John Robbie. John is just as straightforward when he’s answering the questions as he is when he’s asking them.

Host of Talk Radio 702’s The John Robbie Show (between 6 and 9am), John’s outspoken approach to issues most people would balk at facing head on has made his name well known among both ordinary and prominent South Africans.

But radio is not all he’s famed for. John’s previous career in rugby has also seen him taking the reins as a rugby pundit on television and at Independent Newspapers. He has also volunteered his time as a Laureus Friend and Ambassador at the International Laureus Sport for Good Foundation that uplifts disadvantaged communities through sport. Described as someone who speaks for those who cannot, it’s no surprise to hear John’s show walked off with the Chairperson’s Award in the media category of the
2007 Johannesburg City Parks Environmental Awards for its role in positively influencing the environment of Johannesburg. The award recognises individuals and organisations that have made a substantial contribution to building a Greener, more sustainable and better environment in Johannesburg.

When John and his wife Jenny first came to South Africa, they rented for a while before buying their first home. And shortly after they bought, the interest rate went up to 25 per cent.

‘We bought it just before PW Botha’s infamous 1985 Rubicon speech. It cost R87 000 and was nothing spectacular, but it was all ours. It had a simple garden and a couple of bedrooms down the corridor – a basic South African home… We stayed there until 1994.’

Although it was in a good condition, the Robbies did do a bit of renovation. ‘We added a room onto the house, as well as a bar, a deck and pool,’ John explains. Not an easy feat, especially considering how the pool came into being. ‘There was bedrock in the garden when we built it and the builders had to use dynamite to blow it up.’

John says he made about R20 000 on the sale of the house. ‘We sold it at around the time of South Africa’s first democratic elections so there was a lot of uncertainty in the air.’

The Robbies currently live in Northcliff and have a holiday home in Umdloti in KwaZulu-Natal. ‘It’s really very beautiful in that area – and a great place to get away,’ he explains.

Does John have any advice for those considering entering the property market? ‘It’s stupid to pay off someone else’s home loan if you can pay your own bond. Just jump on the bandwagon if you’re not already a homeowner. It’s amazing how quickly you can pay off your bond – with sacrifice and dedication and luck. To own your own place is a source of great comfort!’

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